This, That, and the Other Thing

Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
5 months ago
I’m trying to think of one of the disciplines at the Edmonton Oilers skills competition at Rogers Place tonight that Zach Hyman would have a legitimate chance to win. Fastest skater? Uh, no. No chance. None.
Shot accuracy? I doubt it. Then again, Hyman has been clicking along at 17.3 per cent, the second-highest rate of his career, this season and he leads the Oilers with 22 goals on 127 shots. A lot of those “shots” come via Hyman hacking, digging and being a pain-in-the-ass in and around opposing goaltenders in the blue paint. We know he’ll take it off the face if he has to, although he did have a sweet tuck to make it 2-0 in that 5-2 win over Philly.
What Hyman, 31, has going for him when he’s hunting pucks is he’s like a dog on a T-bone steak. Just try to get it from him. A lot of players are like that, but not many are as adept at putting the rubber in the net as Hyman has been in his time with the Oilers – he’s scored 85 goals in 189 games. Oh, and he’s playing with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. 
The bottom line is Hyman finds a way to get things done. His being on a 50-goal pace is a big part of why the Oilers are on a six-game winning streak and have clawed back into playoff contention going into Saturday’s game against the Ottawa Senators. Simply put, with seasons of 27 and 36 goals with the Oilers and 22 already this year, Hyman is substance over style.


“I think at every level I’ve tried to get better and excel and adapt and you learn how to score,” said Hyman, who twice scored 21 goals with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but has upped his game in Edmonton.
“Go to the net. Everybody can do that. It’s learning to get your stick in the right places and shooting to score. I don’t think about it too much. I just continue to go there for guys like Connor and Nuge, two guys who have the ability to make plays.”


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As unforgettable moments go, what unfolded at Rexall Place 17 years ago today, Jan. 4, 2007, stands out for me as the most bizarre play I’ve seen in all my years watching and writing about hockey. That would be Patrik Stefan of the Dallas Stars bungling an empty-net gimme against the Oilers and having the puck go 200 the other way and into the net behind Marty Turco courtesy of Ales Hemsky.
If you saw the sequence, you’ll never forget it. I certainly won’t as I was writing the gamer for The Sun and was just getting ready to send my story. Suffice to say, the delete key was smoking before the Stars recovered to win the game in a shootout. That aside, I’ve never seen a stranger play and the live call by Peter Loubardias and Ray Ferraro was absolutely epic. 
While I can’t get enough of it – I watched it another dozen or so times today – I’m guessing Stefan has had his fill of seeing and being asked about it. Stefan, who never came close to living up to being taken first overall by Atlanta in the 1999 Entry Draft, played just 13 more games with Dallas after this play. 


I’m really dating myself, but a tip of the cap to Connie Madigan, known in hockey circles as Mad Dog, who passed away this week at the age of 89. Allan Mitchell, Bruce McCurdy and I might be the only people around here old enough to remember Madigan, but he was a legendary character in hockey’s minor leagues, where he played more than 800 games. Madigan essentially played himself as Ross “Mad Dog” Madison in the 1977 movie Slapshot. 
Madigan played just 20 games in the NHL, all with St. Louis in 1972-73. He was 38 that season and to this day remains the NHL’s oldest rookie. I was just a kid, but I remember Madigan playing in Portland with the Buckaroos when the Vancouver Canucks were in the WHL prior to joining the NHL. 


I look forward to seeing how Dylan Holloway handles moving to centre from the wing now that he’s been activated by the Oilers in the AHL with the Bakersfield Condors.
Lining up at centre is nothing new for Holloway — he spent his second season with Wisconsin playing in the middle. Maybe that’ll turn out to be the best fit for the 22-year-old with the Oilers down the road. With Ryan McLeod playing so well with Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele, why not take a look at Holloway at 3C when he returns? First, he’s got to stay healthy.


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